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WASHINGTON — With Iraq and Syria ablaze, the oil-rich kingdom of Saudi Arabia seems almost an afterthought. But Riyadh will be a crucial, if quixotic, ally as the U.S. seeks to mobilize Sunni Muslims against the terrorist Islamic State.
ASPEN, Colo. — At the public kickoff of a discussion here about U.S. policy toward Russia and Ukraine, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates joked that his favorite definition of diplomacy was “petting a dog and saying ‘nice doggie’ until you can find a rock.”
WASHINGTON — Now it’s Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s turn to show that he has the vision and leadership to build a durable cease-fire that could empower Palestinian moderates and begin building a pathway from the hell on earth that is Gaza.
WASHINGTON — Secretary of State John Kerry has made a significant mistake in how he's pursuing a Gaza cease-fire — and it's not surprising that he has upset both the Israelis and some moderate Palestinians.
WASHINGTON — The world has been so chaotic lately that it was easy to overlook two U.S. diplomatic maneuvers — involving the turbulent nations of Afghanistan and Iran — that avoided what could have been dangerous ruptures.
WASHINGTON — In President Obama's sometimes maddeningly cautious foreign policy, you can see him struggling to answer what may be the hardest question of his presidency: How should the United States project power in a disorderly world without making the same mistakes it did in Iraq and Afghanistan?
WASHINGTON — A glimpse of the passionate loyalty inspired by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the insurgent group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, comes in a recent video made by a 20-year-old Muslim recruit from the British city of Cardiff, Wales.
WASHINGTON — What would an effective, quick response to the catastrophic civil wars in Iraq and Syria look like? Sometimes in foreign policy, as in sports, it can be useful to visualize the right technique and then hit the ball.
WASHINGTON — Let’s look at the reality on the ground in the Middle East: Iraq and Syria are effectively partitioned along sectarian lines; Lebanon and Yemen are close to fracturing; Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia survive intact, but as increasingly authoritarian states.
WASHINGTON — When CBS News brought Dwight Eisenhower back to Normandy for the 20th anniversary of the D-Day landings in 1964, you might have expected the former commander of Allied forces to conclude with a triumphal comment. Instead, CBS captured an anguished Eisenhower against the backdrop…
WASHINGTON — After months of war fever over Ukraine, perhaps the biggest surprise is that citizens there will be voting to choose a new government in elections that observers predict will be free and fair in most areas.
WASHINGTON — The chamber of horrors of the Syrian civil war has spawned a terrorist group so extreme that it has been rejected even by al-Qaida — and this toxic group is now establishing a safe haven in the city of Raqqah in northern Syria that could soon be used to attack foreign targets.
AMMAN, Jordan — Iraq appears to be slipping back into civil war, and Sheik Zaydan Aljabiri, one of the political leaders of the Sunni insurgent group known as the Tribal Revolutionaries, seems confident that his side is winning.
WASHINGTON — As President Obama looks at the Ukraine crisis, he sees an asymmetry of interests: Simply put, the future of Ukraine means more to Vladimir Putin’s Russia than it does to the U.S. or Europe. For Putin, this is an existential crisis; for the West, so far, it isn’t, as the limited…
WASHINGTON — China's financial markets seem to be signaling trouble, as a government crackdown on corruption and loose credit begins to bite and jittery local investors scramble for safety.
BRUSSELS — President Obama has spoken once again during the Ukraine crisis about being on the right "side of history." It's one of his signature lines, but he should stop: The phrase implies there's an inevitability to the advance of progress and justice. Would that it were so.
WASHINGTON — With the Ukraine crisis, any fleeting hope that the U.S. and Russia could soon broker a political settlement in Syria has vanished. The U.S. needs an alternate strategy for strengthening Syrian moderates who can resist both the brutal Bashar al-Assad regime and al-Qaida extremists.
WASHINGTON — Napoleon is said to have cautioned during an 1805 battle: "When the enemy is making a false movement, we must take good care not to interrupt him." The citation is also sometimes rendered as "Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake." Whatever the precise wording, …
SHANGHAI — What Xi Jinping has accomplished over the past year doesn't look like an old-fashioned Communist Party putsch. There aren't red banners in the streets or blaring loudspeakers. But Chinese and Western analysts agree that Xi has achieved a remarkable consolidation of power.
WASHINGTON — Western and Arab intelligence services that support Syria’s struggling opposition gathered for a two-day strategy meeting in Washington last week that appears to signal a stronger effort to back the rebels.
HALHUL, West Bank — Hoping to understand the current Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in human terms, I made a visit last week to a Palestinian farmer named Hammadeh Kashkeesh, whom I first met 32 years ago. The encounter reminded me of the pain that's at the heart of this dispute, and how h…
WASHINGTON — A funny thing happened on the way to the decline of the United States and the rise of China, Brazil and other emerging markets: Many prominent analysts began wondering if the pessimistic predictions about America were wrong — and whether it was the emerging markets that were hea…
TEHRAN — Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that despite hitting a “snag” in nuclear negotiations last week, Iran is committed “100 percent” to reaching a comprehensive final agreement. But he voiced tough positions on key issues and said “it’s going to be a bumpy road,” with…
ABU DHABI — This has been a year when America re-embraced diplomacy after a frustrating decade of war, displaying a relentlessly pragmatic approach that recalls the days of such deal-making former secretaries of state as Henry Kissinger and James A. Baker III.
WASHINGTON — Now that the Obama administration has won its breakthrough first-step nuclear deal with Iran, officials are planning strategy for the decisive second round that over the next six months will seek a broader and tougher comprehensive agreement.
WASHINGTON — Count the Iran nuclear deal as a rare win for President Obama’s secretive, cerebral style of governing. His careful, closeted approach has produced many setbacks over the past five years, but it was at the heart of last weekend’s breakthrough deal with Tehran.
MENOUFIA, Egypt — A year ago, the Muslim Brotherhood’s leaders in this region of the Nile Delta seemed confident that they owned the future. But then came the military coup on June 30 that toppled President Mohammed Morsi and killed hundreds of his supporters.
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is approaching one of those moments when a big turn in foreign policy is possible. People can debate whether it's the equivalent of the opening to China or the end of the Cold War, but there's no doubt that this is a time of opportunity — and that, as the …
WASHINGTON — In the line of succession, House Speaker John Boehner is the third ranking official in the country. For practical purposes, he has all but disappeared as a leader. That failure is pushing the country toward the financial brink.
WASHINGTON — A high-level defector has provided a disturbing new account of Syrian chemical weapons operations — including an allegation that some of these weapons have been moved since Russia proposed an international monitoring scheme to destroy the toxic munitions.
WASHINGTON — How did it happen that less than a year after Barack Obama convincingly won re-election, his every move as president now draws hoots and catcalls from nearly every point on the political spectrum?
WASHINGTON — When the ancient Greek or Roman playwrights had painted themselves into a corner, plot-wise, they sometimes resorted to the device known as the deus ex machina, in which one of the gods was hoisted over the stage and dropped in to resolve the otherwise inchoate drama.
WASHINGTON — With the global furor over the National Security Agency’s surveillance activities, you might think that other governments are refraining from such intrusive monitoring. But recent reports by U.S. technology companies make clear that foreign governments are aggressively compellin…
WASHINGTON — The world still talks about Syria as if it’s a single country, but some members of the Syrian opposition are beginning to discuss the reality that Syria today is effectively partitioned — complicating any negotiated solution to the conflict.
WASHINGTON — It’s easy to talk about how change is good, but when it actually happens it’s a shock. It felt that way for hundreds of Washington Post employees on Monday when we heard our boss, Donald Graham, tell us that he was selling the newspaper.
WASHINGTON — How can Secretary of State John Kerry succeed in the “Mission Impossible” of negotiating an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement when he faces the same intractable issues that have derailed so many previous peacemaking efforts?
WASHINGTON — Two qualities rarely associated with modern secretaries of state are patience and keeping your mouth shut in public. But in his first six months, John Kerry has demonstrated both — and his stubborn silence appears to have brought him to the door of renewed Israeli-Palestinian pe…
WASHINGTON — The White House rationalized last week’s military coup in Egypt as providing the opportunity for a “do-over,” and that’s a comforting idea in more ways than one. But political life doesn’t come with an eraser to neatly remove mistakes and start over — especially in the explosiv…
WASHINGTON — Centuries of theatergoers have puzzled over the riddle of why it took Shakespeare’s Hamlet so long to act, once he had set his mind to it. The Arab world has the same question about President Barack Obama’s delay in implementing his policies in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East.
WASHINGTON — “Authoritarianism in the name of Islam is dead,” one Egyptian activist messaged last Sunday, as millions gathered in the streets to denounce the rule of President Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government.
WASHINGTON — Congress and the courts will sort out the big questions about privacy and surveillance posed by Edward Snowden’s disclosure of National Security Agency monitoring programs. In the meantime, there are some nagging smaller questions raised by this hemorrhage of secrets.
WASHINGTON — Critics are correct when they argue that President Barack Obama doesn’t have a strategy for military victory in Syria. The reality is that despite his decision to arm the opposition there, Obama is still playing for a negotiated diplomatic transition.
WASHINGTON — Journalists have a professional commitment to the idea that more debate is better, so we instinctively side with leakers. But I’m skeptical about some of the claims of Edward Snowden, the young NSA contractor who leaked secrets about that agency’s surveillance programs to The Wa…
WASHINGTON — U.S. officials describe a common frustration in dealing with China over the past decade. Beijing wants to be recognized as a rising economic power but refuses to be an active partner in maintaining security. Beijing has seemed to want a free ride, without the corresponding respo…
WASHINGTON — Secretary of State John Kerry’s cardinal rule in trying to restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process has been that he won’t talk publicly about the details, so it’s difficult to know how he’s doing. But he’s still hard at it, and he seems to be employing some modest variatio…
WASHINGTON — It’s a rule of thumb in Middle East conflicts that whenever peace talks are announced, each side steps up the fighting so it can grab as much territory as possible before the cease-fire lines are drawn.
WASHINGTON — The hundred pages of Benghazi emails released last week tell us almost nothing about how four Americans came to die so tragically in that Libyan city. But they are a case study in why nothing works in Washington.
WASHINGTON -- America's top intelligence official said Thursday there isn't any evidence so far that the Boston Marathon bombers had help from foreign terrorist networks.
WASHINGTON — John Maynard Keynes once said that words should be used aggressively, "for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking." That's a starting point for an appreciation of Mervyn King, who will retire soon as governor of the Bank of England and who has displayed the quirky in…
WASHINGTON -- For an example of how the U.S. government can work at cross-purposes in dealing with terrorism, take a look at the failed effort to release Afghan prisoners from Guantanamo. It shows how an incorrect analysis -- that the Taliban and al-Qaida pose the same threat -- can lead to …